of the ultimate segment in
the core category.
24 Sep. 2009,
Launching a new high performance car is not an easy
task, even for a well established brand.
What one would say then if it's a whole new line-up
that is going to be launched, as planned by the McLaren Group?
The mission might not be simple, but isn't this the
very essence of any daring challenge, especially when the major economies
are going through one of the toughest crises that the world has known
since the late twenties of the last century?
Like prosperous times, difficult ones are not eternal.
They end one day or another. And this is the first argument in favour of
the new McLaren MP4-12C, which is not short of other rational qualities to
support its claims of a special status within its category, having
structural differences which go beyond gadgets.
First, the category where the new MP4-12C will fit when
its goes on sale in 2011, is what McLaren calls the core
segment of high-performance sports car, those sold from around GB£125,000
to £175,000, (EUR 139,000 to 195,000 at today's
value) such as the new Ferrari
458 Italia, Lamborghini Gallardo, Porsche
911 Turbo, Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB9.
All parts of the
MP4-12C are designed by McLaren, and not a single one has
come from any other manufacturer’s parts bin.
Precisely, the McLaren MP4-12C aims the bring into this
‘core’ segment, technology (such
as the Carbon MonoCell chassis) and performance
that are more related to the ultimate
sector, where where the McLaren F1 entered in 1993, followed later by the Mercedes-Benz
SLR McLaren, Bugatti Veyron, the Porsche Carrera GT or Ferrari Enzo.
Since the two-seat mid-engine MP4-12C brings the Carbon
MonoCell chassis to this core segment, it goes without saying that having
an 80-kg carbon fibre chassis structure means that the 600bhp
twin-turbocharged, 3.8-litre, 90° V8 McLaren ‘M838T’ engine will have
such a low weight-to-power ratio that its performance should logically
introduce exceptional standards in handling, ride, performance, as well as
safety, economy and emissions.
Even more significantly in these market segments, all
the parts of the MP4-12C (from the engine right down to the tailor-made
switches and buttons) are bespoke, designed exclusively by McLaren, and
not a single one has come from any other manufacturer’s parts bin.
Before getting into the details, it is also worth
mentioning that the MP4-12C is only the first of a new range of high
performance cars to come from McLaren Automotive, the independent car
division based at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England.
What makes Ron Dennis, McLaren Automotive Chairman so
optimistic despite the recent economic downturn?
By the time the 12C is launched in 2011, Dennis and his
team expect the economic conditions to be much improved.
Sheriff, McLaren Automotive MD: the supply of the 12C
is expected to be around 1,000 unit in its first year, in
a market which grew from 8,000 sales in 2000 to over
28,000 in 2007.
As explained by Antony
Sheriff, McLaren Automotive Managing Director, the supply of the 12C
is expected to be around 1,000 unit in its first year, representing 3.5
per cent of the core market, which grew from 8,000 sales in 2000 to more
than 28,000 in 2007 (more about this niche
With twenty years of sports car design, engineering and
production, the McLaren MP4-12C is the beginning of Dennis' plan to make a
full line-up of "technology-led and customer-focused performance cars
for the 21st century".
Dennis knows his subject too well, as McLaren’s
automotive division has already built the McLaren F1
supercar (1993-1998) followed by the Mercedes-Benz
SLR McLaren luxury supercar (2003-2009).
It is worth mentioning in this context that the new
super sports car from Mercedes-Benz, the SLS AMG, will be made by the
German company and its tuning subsidiary, Mercedes-AMG GmbH. The market
launch of the SLS AMG is scheduled for April 2010, at a sales price
starting from EUR 177,310 (incl. 19% VAT), equivalent to
about GB£159,000. The SLS AMG, which has an aluminium
spaceframe body with gullwing doors, received its world
premiere at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show (17-27 September).
Having pioneered the use of carbon composite
construction in Formula One with the 1981 MP4/1 model, McLaren brought
carbon fibre to road cars for the first time with the 1993 McLaren F1, and
then built on this experience with a carbon fibre chassis and body on the
Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.
< 80 kg, allowing for lighter body panels.
However, while the carbon chassis have remained the
preserve of the most expensive exotic cars, the MP4-12C introduces now the
advantages of carbon composite - light weight, longevity and high strength
and torsional rigidity – to a more affordable sector through a new
one-piece moulding application.
But how did it become more affordable?
The new carbon fibre production process pioneered by
McLaren allows now the MonoCell to be produced to high quality standards,
in a single piece, in four hours, compared to the dozens of
carbon components (and dozens of production hours) that normally feature
in a carbon fibre chassis structure.
The finished MonoCell emerges in one piece, without any
need to bond different parts to make a whole structure, as is the case
with other carbon fibre cars. The MonoCell is also hollow, saving further
weight. McLaren says that the integrity of production ensures the location
of suspension and ancillaries is accurate to the finest of tolerances.
The MP4-12C name
‘MP4’ is the chassis
designation for all McLaren Formula 1 cars since
1981. It stands for McLaren Project
4, resulting from the merger of Ron
Dennis’ Project Four organisation with Team
McLaren Ltd in 1980 to form McLaren Racing.
refers to McLaren’s internal Vehicle Performance
Index through which it rates key performance
criteria both for competitors and for its own
cars. The criteria combine power, weight,
emissions, and aerodynamic efficiency. The
coalition of these values delivers an overall
performance index that has been used as a
benchmark throughout the car’s development.
refers to Carbon, highlighting the unique
application of carbon fibre technology to the
future range of McLaren sports cars.
Since weight affects acceleration, speed, handling,
fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, McLaren
Automotive engineers attacked weight saving from several angles:
- weighing less than 80 kg, the Carbon MonoCell,
reduces the weight of the structure and allows for the use of much lighter
weight body panels,
- the close position of the driver and passenger allows
a narrower, lighter body while giving improved visibility with a clearer
perception of the car’s extremities,
- brakes with forged aluminium hubs save 8 kg and weigh
even less than the optional carbon ceramic brakes,
years after the merger of Ron Dennis’ Project
Four organisation with Team McLaren Ltd to form
McLaren Racing, Dennis co-founded in 1989 the
McLaren Cars, which designed and manufactured the
F1 road car of 1994.
1993 and 1998, the company built 107 McLaren
F1: 79 road
cars and 28 cars homologated for racing. The first
cars were delivered in 1994, retailing at a price
of GB£634,500 (EUR 706,000
at today's value).
renamed McLaren Automotive, the company has been
producing the Mercedes-Benz
sports car on behalf of Daimler AG, from 2003 to
the end of this year.
Automotive has built over 2100 SLRs and is
currently building a limited edition run of 75
Stirling Moss derivatives (at EUR 750,000
/ GB£674,000 each) which have all been ordered by
existing SLR owners. This makes the SLR the most
successful super sports car by sales, considering
it price starting at EUR 460,000
(around GB£414,000) for the coupé and EUR
500,000 (GB£450,000) for the roadster.
McLaren Group is owned today by Daimler
(Mercedes-Benz) 40%; Bahraini Mumtalakat Holding
Company 30%; Tag Group (Mansour Ojjeh) 15%; Ron
McLaren Technology Centre (MTC), which opened in
2004, houses McLaren Automotive and five
businesses that form the McLaren Group: McLaren
Racing, McLaren Electronics, McLaren Marketing,
McLaren Applied Technologies and Absolute Taste
- lightweight exhaust pipes exit straight out the rear
of the car, minimizing their length and weight,
- airflow-assisted airbrake deployment reduces weight
of the airbrake activation system,
- the downsized engine coupled to lightweight compact
Seamless Shift dual clutch gearbox (SSG) minimize vehicle length, weight
and polar moment of inertia,
- significant weight was pared off the alloy wheels
through intensive finite element analysis of wall thicknesses,
- the engine cooling radiators were mounted at the
rear, as close to the engine as possible, to minimize the pipework as well
as the fluids contained within them.
Carbon fibre body panels have also been considered to
reduce weight, said Mark Vinnels, McLaren Automotive Programme Director,
"but they would have added little benefit as the new one-piece carbon
MonoCell provides all of the torsional strength the body needs. The costs
saved [by doing without carbon fibre body panels] were used elsewhere for
greater weight reduction and efficiencies overall.”
McLaren story started with motor racing, with a
heritage that spans 45 years during which time it
has won 163 Grands Prix, 12 F1 World Championship
Driver’s titles and eight Constructor’s
achieved the most dominant season ever in F1, with
15 wins out of 16 races in 1988, just as it
dominated the Can-Am championship winning five
titles in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It also
won three Indianapolis 500 races and the
prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours at its first attempt
the British company remains the only manufacturer
to win the F1 World Championship, the Indianapolis
500 and Le Mans – the ’triple crown’ of the
motor sport world.
McLaren adds another important argument, for car
collectors this time: carbon composites do not degrade over time like
metal structures fatigue. A 15-year-old McLaren F1 has none of the
tiredness or lack of structural integrity that afflicts traditional cars
that have suffered a hard life. Hence, McLaren expects the 12C should feel
as good as new in this respect for decades.
The 12C MonoCell also offers greater occupant safety,
since it acts as a safety survival cell, as it does for a Formula One car.
The lightweight aluminium alloy front and rear
structures are designed to absorb impact forces in a crash and can be
replaced relatively easily. Aluminium extrusions and castings are jig
welded into the finished assembly and bolted directly to the MonoCell,
unlike cars with full aluminium chassis, where the structure has to absorb
the impact, which implies more fundamental damage (and expense) to the
whole structure, including the passenger cell, in a major accident.
‘M838T’: twin-turbo 3.8 litre, 90° V8.
Unique in its class by offering carbon technology, the
12C should also have the highest specific power output as well as power-
and torque-to-weight ratios.
Developed specifically for the 12C, the bespoke McLaren
‘M838T’ is a twin- turbocharged, 3.8 litre, 90° V8 engine which revs
to 8,500rpm, and features dual variable valve timing, producing around 600bhp
(447 kW) and 600Nm (443 lb-ft, 61.2 kg-m) of torque, with 80
per cent of torque (480 Nm, 354 lb-ft, 49 kg-m) available at below
A dry sump and flat plane crankshaft allow the engine
to be placed very low in the chassis, lowering the centre of gravity and
improving handling responses. Composite cam covers and intake manifolds
also reduce weight and heat transmission into the charge air, as well as
Nikasil-coated aluminium liners for further weight reduction.
design concentrates weight within the wheelbase and
towards the centre of
gravity, improving cornering.
McLaren explains that the more weight is concentrated
within the wheelbase and towards the centre of gravity, the lower the
polar moment of inertia, thereby improving corner turn in.
High level exhaust pipes exit through a mixing box,
rather than a conventional and heavier silencer box. All parts of the
exhaust system up to the mixing box feature sandwich layer heat-shielding
that helps reduce heat from the engine bay. In just an 18mm gap, exhaust
gas temperatures are reduced from 900°C to 300°C.
McLaren claims that taking power and emissions in
combination (measured by horsepower to CO2 ratio),
the 12C will deliver its power at greater efficiency than any other car on
the market with an internal combustion engine, including hybrids.
The engine drives the rear wheels through two wet
clutches and a McLaren-developed seven speed dual clutch gearbox, the
Seamless Shift Gearbox (SSG).
of the steering wheel is small, tactile and ‘clean’
from any distracting buttons. The interior does not suffer
an over abundance of switches, knobs and dials.
The Seamless Shift technology offers variable
programmes ranging from Normal for road use and Sport for
quicker changes, right up to a High Performance mode. Additional Automatic,
Launch Control and Winter modes can be selected, the latter
changing all electronic functions to suit low friction conditions.
While no traditional manual transmission is offered
(the car is designed with a two pedal layout to make it narrower and
lighter), McLaren points out that the SSG is lightweight, compact in
design and positioned in the best location. The input shaft lies very
close to the output shaft to help position the entire powertrain low in
the vehicle. Twin secondary shafts ensure any rear axle weight overhang is
minimised and rear crash performance is uncompromised. The bespoke SSG is
further complemented by an entirely new control system.
Gears are changed using a Formula 1 style rocker shift
that pivots in the centre of the steering wheel. It is actuated on either
side of the steering wheel (pulling right changes up, pulling left down).
changed using a rocker shift that pivots in the centre of
the steering wheel. The rocker moves with the steering
wheel, rather than being mounted on the steering column.
As with the McLaren Formula 1 car, a shift can be
actuated either by pulling or by pushing on the rocker. The rocker moves
with the steering wheel, rather than being mounted on the steering column.
The rocker itself incorporates an innovative feature
designed by McLaren engineers and called Pre-Cog, for pre-cognition,
literally ‘foreknowledge’. The rocker on the 12C has two positions
with a slightly different haptic (related to the sense of touch) for each.
When the driver applies first pressure to the rocker, the gearbox gets
ready to swap ratios, thereby saving time – latency – between the
message being sent and the gearbox being primed to act. The second
pressure confirms that the gear should be changed and the torque handover
is completed in milliseconds.
cluster: large tachometer and digital speed readout.
“What Pre-Cog actually does is initiate the shift
process by priming the clutch and torque handover – it takes significant
time out of the process,” explained Dick Glover, Technical Director
“It’s a little bit like the first pressure on a
camera shutter button. There’s no requirement for the driver to use it
but it is more satisfying and engaging if you do. The SSG also promotes
seamless shifting in which the driver doesn’t have to reduce engine
power at all – rather than the gearshift slowing you down, it actually
speeds the car up by recovering the energy of the crank spinning as it
drops engine speed,” he said.
The suspension is based on double wishbones with coil
springs. The dampers are interconnected hydraulically and provide adaptive
responses depending on both road conditions and driver preference.
McLaren claims that the suspension for the MP4-12C
offers new levels of roll control and grip, an almost flat cornering
attitude, depending on the programme selected, while delivering compliance
and ride comfort closer to an executive saloon car, thanks to the
Proactive Chassis Control system.
system: adjustable roll control, instead of mechanical
anti-roll bars, allowing the 12C to maintain precise roll
control under heavy cornering while decoupling the
suspension in a straight line for wheel articulation and
The Proactive system features adjustable roll control
(instead of mechanical anti-roll bars), allowing the 12C to maintain
precise roll control under heavy cornering while decoupling the suspension
in a straight line for wheel articulation and compliance.
Three suspension modes can be selected on the Active
Dynamics Panel. As with the powertrain adjustment, there is a ‘normal’,
a ‘sport’ mode and a high performance mode which adjusts
numerous parameters in the system.
The Proactive suspension protects suspension bushes
from wear and tear, with McLaren’s research suggesting a potential for
up to ten times more mileage than on some competitor cars. Also, the
hydraulic pump that supports the dampers is the same pump that supports
the electro-hydraulic steering system.
The Brake Steer feature is another development of an
electronic system used by McLaren’s 1997 MP4/12 Formula 1 car. It brakes
the inside rear wheel when the car is entering a corner too quickly to
make the desired radius.
Under normal circumstances the front would wash away
wide of the apex the driver wants to touch: the car is understeering.
Brake Steer prevents this by assessing the steering
angle to determine the driver’s intended course and applies the inside
rear brake to increase yaw rate and resume the desired course, bringing
the nose of the car back on line.
developed a composite braking system with a forged
aluminium bell that attaches to the cast iron disc. This
solution saves 8 kg. Carbon ceramic brakes will be
optional, but the standard composite brake system remains
The system also works on acceleration out of a corner
when the inside rear has a tendency to spin, allowing the driver to put
power down more quickly. It controls what a limited slip differential
would do, but without its weight.
For the brakes as such, McLaren has developed a
composite braking system that uses a forged aluminium bell that attaches
to the cast iron disc. This solution maintained the brake feel of a cast
iron disc while saving 8 kg. Carbon ceramic brakes will be available as an
option, offering fade-free braking performance during high performance
driving, but the standard composite brake system remains actually lighter
than the larger carbon ceramic units.
The design of the standard cast alloy wheels (19”
front, 20” rear) was also driven by light weight objectives: the styling
was agreed in concept, then the wheel was tuned using finite element
analysis to take a further 4 kg out of the wheels. Bespoke Pirelli tyres
have been developed with McLaren specifically for the 12C.
An array of electronic aids is fitted to assist and
protect the less-experienced driver, or when conditions become too
challenging. These include ABS, ESP, ASR traction control, Electronic
Brake Distribution, Hill Hold and Brake Steer.
The level of intervention varies according to the handling mode selected.
Moving the driver
and passenger closer together.
While the MP4-12C is compact outside, its interior has
to offer the driver and passenger comfort and driving enjoyment.
“With the interior, we have created a real step
forward in the packaging of a sports car. Moving the driver and passenger
closer together improves driving control and moving the pedals improves
the problem of wheel well intrusion. We also repackaged many of the major
components that normally sit under the dashboard to allow for more space
and a unique form. Packaging is one of the 12C’s really strong points,”
said Frank Stephenson, McLaren Automotive
The interior is space efficient and is designed to
accommodate 98th percentile adults in comfort. This has been partly
achieved by the 7 inch touch screen telematics system oriented in ‘portrait’
mode, that is vertical, compared to the usual horizontal landscape’
orientation. McLaren says that this is more intuitive than ‘landscape’
orientation, as we read down a page and our mobile telephones and other
personal information devices are configured this way.
The 7 inch touch
screen telematics system is oriented in ‘portrait’
mode, compared to the usual landscape’ orientation.
The innovative information centre provides all normal
telematics functions such as audio, navigation and telephony, with new
features. Meridian, the renowned producer of state-of-the-art sound
systems, is developing its first ever in-car system for the 12C.
For outside visibility, the low cowl gives a full six
degrees downward vision from eye height and allows the driver a clear view
of the front of the car. The view of the top of the front wings, with the
highest point positioned directly above the centre of the wheel, also
facilitates exact placement of the 12C in a corner.
The design of the steering wheel is small, tactile and
‘clean’ from any distracting buttons, a key element for a high
performance car that draws its inspiration so directly from Formula 1.
That is why the McLaren 12C’s interior does not suffer an over abundance
of switches, knobs and dials.
Likewise, McLaren’s racing expertise was also the
inspiration for the steering wheel design with an advanced and compact
Like the McLaren F1, the driver has controls on both
sides, which allows for a rational positioning of switches of the climate
controls (on each door console), telematics (on the upper centre console),
Active Dynamics Panel (middle centre
console) and the transmission and minor controls (tunnel console).
All groups of controls are accessible within a hand’s
distance from the steering wheel. The instrument cluster has a large
central tachometer and digital speed readout. Behind the steering wheel
(and moving with it) is a Formula 1-inspired rocker for changing gears. It
has been engineered to deliver a Formula 1 haptic. The science of haptics
has been applied to all the controls in order to generate a consistent and
high quality feel.
The Active Dynamics Panel provides two rotary switches
and four push buttons: ‘Start/Stop’, ‘Active’ (to activate all the
dynamic controls), ‘Winter’ (sets powertrain, suspension and
electronic aids to maximum driver support) and ‘Launch’ (initiates the
launch control system).
Panel: 2 rotary switches and 4 push buttons.
The two rotary switches
control ‘powertrain’ and ‘handling’, each having
three position settings for normal, sport and high performance driving
‘Powertrain’ changes throttle response,
gearbox strategy, shift times and impulse (how much one can feel the
gearchange). The coaxial ‘Manual’ button controls use of manual
‘Handling’ changes stability control,
steering weight, suspension firmness and roll stiffness. The coaxial ‘Aero’
button allows the driver to deploy the airbrake for increased downforce.
The seat is electrically-adjustable for height. The
interior has stowage space with a shelf behind the seats enough for small
bags and a ‘floating’ centre console that leaves space beneath for a
large storage container.
The interior’s features will include airbags, fully
automatic dual zone climate control, sophisticated telematics and audio
systems, parking sensors, trip computer, cruise control and electric
McLaren Automotive Design Director: All the fins, vents
and the flat underbody are there for a reason. No styling
addenda have been incorporated for appeal or style alone.
The McLaren MP4-12C has been designed around a
demanding mechanical package that puts emphasis on aerodynamics, compact
dimensions, performance and efficiency, practicality and comfort.
The air flow has been managed to support all
performance figures and light weight targets. For example, placing the
radiators adjacent to the engine keeps the car narrow and reduces weight.
However, this results in a huge challenge of ensuring ample air flow to
the radiators. Hence, the large side air scoops and integrated turning
vanes are completely functional.
Frank Stephenson says: “All the fins, vents and the
flat underbody are there for a reason. No styling addenda have been
incorporated for appeal or style alone. This aerodynamic purity explains
why this car can hit top speed with great stability without resorting to
tea tray wings or deep front air dams. I really feel that the styling
communicates the 12C’s engineering integrity and technical benefits and
it is this purity that makes the design timeless.”
Very low front
since it does not have to house engine radiators.
The front is very low since it does not have to house
large engine cooling radiators, two of which are mounted longitudinally at
the sides. This offers the added benefit of segment-leading space for
storage under the bonnet.
The face is dominated by large air intakes and bi-xenon
headlights with LED running lights inspired by the form of the McLaren
logo, which is displayed for the first time on the bonnet of a car.
Illumination from the running lights bleeds into three
distinctive gills just above the headlamps. The windscreen is deep and
low, with a single weight-saving pantograph wiper blade, as was the F1.
weight-saving pantograph wiper blade, as was the F1.
Stephenson again: “The 12C does not reproduce the F1
design but it... builds on its functionally-driven engineering and design
highlights such as the large, deep windscreen and the low cowl to give the
driver good visibility for accurate placement on the road. Any
similarities are there for a reason.”
From the side, the dominant air inlets help direct
cooling air over the side radiators. Likewise, the scalloped shoulders
drive airflow to the airbrake, enhancing its effectiveness in the
The other prevailing design characteristics are the dihedral
doors (a hereditary gene from the McLaren F1).
parking situations, dihedral doors allow ingress and
egress in a situation where another car has parked too
The concept of dihedral doors is simply to allow the
driver and passenger to get into and out of the car by moving the door
forward and upwards, as well as allowing a smaller door opening than would
otherwise be necessary.
In tighter parking situations, dihedral doors allow
ingress and egress in a situation where another car has parked too
closely. In traditional door systems a huge parking space is necessary to
permit the doors to open wide enough.
With its single hinge, the dihedral doors offer
weight-saving features and are unique to the McLaren brand. As is the
unique handle-free door entry system.
The rear end is open to ensure efficient evacuation of
hot air from the engine bay and the exhaust pipes exit high and in the
centre. The engine itself is visible through the top deck.
The LED tail
light clusters are only visible when illuminated.
The LED tail light clusters are hidden behind
horizontal black bars. They are only visible when illuminated: the two
upper bars light up as LED brake lights and turn indicators.
As high downforce helps maintain traction, cornering
ability and stability while low drag aids top speed and acceleration, the
12C has a completely flat underbody and smooth upper body surfaces to
yield a highly effective drag coefficient and generate very high levels of
balanced downforce at high speed.
A nose splitter gives more downforce at the front while
guide vanes near the front and rear wheels help to increase downforce with
minimal drag penalty and direct air towards the diffuser at the rear.
Airbrake deploys hydraulically under braking, or when the
driver wants to trim the car for increased downforce by
using a switch on the Active
The active Airbrake is another innovation that made its
debut on the F1 supercar and was also incorporated into the SLR. It
deploys hydraulically under braking, or when the driver wants to trim the
car for increased downforce by using a switch on the Active Dynamics
Under braking, a piston operated by transmission
hydraulics raises the Airbrake to a certain angle. Once a small amount of
wing angle is pushed into the airflow, the centre of aerodynamic pressure
forces the bottom of the ‘wing’ back. In this way, it raises the
airbrake to maximum angle using the ‘free’ airflow rather than relying
on another mechanical device.
The Airbrake moves the centre of pressure of the 12C
rearwards, whereas it would normally move forward under braking. It
improves yaw stability under braking and allows the brakes to work more
effectively due to increased downforce. It is also a weight-saving
solution that took almost 50 per cent of weight out of the mechanism.
Despite the recent economic downturn, Ron Dennis firmly
believes that "now is the right time for McLaren Automotive to become
a full line high performance sports car manufacturer.” By the time the
12C is launched in 2011, the crisis should be behind us, or at worst, at
Ron Dennis: now
is the right time for McLaren Automotive to become a full
line high performance sports car manufacturer.
“Worldwide demand for high performance cars is
strong, in large part because of great cars from great competitors. With
McLaren joining that list... we are offering is a new approach to the
market, through a skilled, solid, debt-free and risk-managed company.
McLaren is right to take this step now and support future growth of
high-technology manufacturing and engineering jobs in the UK,” Dennis
McLaren divides the market into segments that encompass
both more comfort–orientated GT cars and the hard-edged supercars for
road and track use:
A - The ‘core’ segment runs from around GB£125,000
to £175,000, (EUR 139,000 to 195,000 at today's
value), covering models such as the Ferrari 458, Lamborghini Gallardo,
Porsche 911 Turbo, Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB9.
B - The next segment up is the ‘high’
category with prices ranging from £175,000 to £250,000 (EUR
195,000 to 278,000) and consists largely of front-engined GT cars
such as Ferrari’s 599 GTB and 612, with just one mid-engined contender,
the Lamborghini Murcielago.
C - The highest segment is the ‘ultimate’
group, a sector more or less initiated by the McLaren F1 in 1993 and now
populated by a select group of cars including the Mercedes-Benz SLR
McLaren, Bugatti Veyron, and cars from the likes of Pagani and Koenigsegg
that followed legends such as the Porsche Carrera GT and Ferrari Enzo.
McLaren Automotive Production Director: large scale lean
production logic in a small-scale, flexible operation.
With the MP4-12C, McLaren aims to bring technology and
performance exclusive to the ‘ultimate’ sector into the ‘core’
To achieve this, the McLaren Production System, which
is championed by Alan Foster, the company's Automotive Production
Director, brings a large scale lean production mentality (building on
McLaren's recent success of record production volumes and quality for a
luxury supercar with the SLR, with over 2,100 units made) into a
small-scale, flexible operation.
In addition to the establishment of a new company, a
new production plant, a new range of high performance cars starting with
an all-new model engineered and developed in house... McLaren is also
building a global network of retail distribution partners.
Technology Centre (top photo) houses McLaren Automotive,
McLaren Racing, McLaren Electronics, McLaren Marketing,
McLaren Applied Technologies and Absolute Taste
(catering). Above, the McLaren production line.
Since the beginning of the 12C project, key targets
aimed also to offer a high performance sports car that is not only
enjoyable to drive, but also to own; a car that is efficient to run and
own, retains its residual value and ensures its owner becomes a repeat
Early planning indicates that 25 per cent of sales will
be made in the UK, 25 per cent in the USA and the remainder to the rest of
the world, notably Germany and mainland Europe, the Middle East and some
Far Eastern countries.
As was the case with the McLaren F1 and SLR, customers
will be able to specify bespoke items, interiors and special equipment for
their own 12C.
The design, development and manufacture and
distribution of current and future McLaren road cars are under the
responsibility of Antony Sheriff, McLaren
Automotive Managing Director.
Sheriff worked previously for McKinsey and Company
(from the late 80's) as a strategic management consultant, dealing with a
number of automotive and non-automotive clients in the U.S. and Europe. He
joined Fiat Auto in 1995, and was promoted two years later to Executive
Director of Product Development for all Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia cars
and commercial vehicles. In 2002, he was promoted to Vice President
Marketing for Fiat, before joining McLaren in 2003.